CHILD OF THE JOURNEY
by Janet Berliner & George Guthridge
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
"For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing." Erich Weisser, one of the main characters in Janet Berliner & George Guthridge's novel Child of the Journey, is an example of this ancient rabbinic saying. Moreover, by doing nothing, Erich begins to turn into the evil he hopes to someday thwart.
Child of the Journey opens a couple of years after the end of Child of the Light. Although Miriam and Erich are living as man and wife in her former estate, Miriam won't renounce her secret marriage to Solomon as she renounced her religion. Instead, she tells herself that by renouncing her religion, her uncle and accepting a sham marriage with Erich, she's helping herself and Solomon to survive, for Erich has told her Solomon was captured by the Nazi's when he fled for Amsterdam.
Erich still maintains a pretense of friendship with the missing Solomon, but appears to be using it mostly to gain Miriam, the object of his desire which continues to elude him, despite their proximity. More importantly, Erich continues to rise in the Nazi hierarchy, all the time maintaining that he is a good German, but not a Nazi. Planning a future vengeance against those lesser Nazis who are corrupting his hero, Adolf Hitler.
Solomon, meanwhile, believes the public persona Miriam is effecting. When Beadle Cohen escapes to Amsterdam and tells him the truth, Solomon returns to Berlin, only to find himself imprisoned in Sachsenhausen prison camp, under the command of Erich's former Friekorps-Youth leader, the sadistic sodomite, Otto Hemple.
Child of the Journey does add an important feature to the series. Berliner and Guthridge have turned their attention to the question of what a Jew is. In addition to the Ashkenaz Jews, such as Solomon and Miriam, we are introduced to Elephantine Jews and Falashan Jews. Furthermore, Hitler's declaring Miriam's Aryan, rather than Jewish, ancenstry further complicates the issue, as alive now as ever in the past. The question is left unresolved at the end of the novel, perhaps waiting to be answered when Solomon arrives at the new Jewish Homeland Hitler hopes to create in Madagascar.
Child of the Journey shares many of Child of the Light's strengths: characterization, historical versimilitude and plotting. Unfortunately, it also suffers from being the middle novel in the trilogy. Although Child of the Light had a somewhat ambiguous ending, the reader felt as if there were a beginning, middle and end. The beginning of Child of the Journey is, at best, a brief recap of the events which took 438 pages to detail in the first book. The ending is nothing except a set up for the final book of the trilogy.
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